Virginia's Rivers

1. Introduction
2. Chesapeake Bay
3. Systems
Physiography Topics
• Introduction to Physiography
• Coastal Plain
• Piedmont
• Mesozoic Basins
• Blue Ridge
• Valley and Ridge
• Appalachian Plateaus
• Virginia's Rivers

Virginia's Rivers (Part 6)

Chowan System

• The Chowan River begins near the Virginia-North Carolina border and flows south to Albemarle Sound in North Carolina.

• It has three main tributaries that originate in Virginia: the Meherrin, the Nottaway, and the Blackwater Rivers. The Chowan River begins where the Nottaway and Blackwater Rivers merge.

• The Meherrin River begins in Virginia's southern Piedmont where it forms most of the border between Lunenberg and Mecklenburg Counties. As it moves eastward, it passes the Fall Line city of Emporia, Virginia. East of Emporia, it forms the border between Southampton and Greensville Counties before it crosses into North Carolina where it meets the Chowan.

• The Nottaway River drains the southeast Piedmont and forms the northern borders of Greensville and Brunswick Counties and parts of the southern borders of Nottaway and Dinwiddie Counties. Once it reaches the Coastal Plain, it travels slowly, forming swampy areas. It joins the Backwater River and the Chowan at the Virginia-North Carolina border.

• The Blackwater River is totally contained in the Coastal Plain. It begins just southeast of Petersburg and forms the border between Southampton and Isle of Wight Counties. Franklin, Virginia is a principal city along the Blackwater. It joins the Chowan and Nottaway at the North Carolina border.

• The term "blackwater", when applied to a river, describes a slow moving river with abundant swamps and wetlands. Often the water has a dark stain that looks like tea.

View Larger Map
Satellite view of the eastern Virginia-North Carolina border. The main river in North Carolina is the Chowan River. At the Virginia border, it splits into the Nottaway River on the west, and the Blackwater River on the east. The Virginia state line jogs northward along the Blackwater for a short distance. (Map data by Google)